Erdoğan: Supreme Election Board to be held responsible if problems occur in election

Todays Zaman
Fecha de publicación: 
05 Oct 2015

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said “If we face a problem, the Supreme Election Board [YSK] will be held responsible,” claiming the YSK made the wrong decision when it rejected requests from local election boards in several districts in the restive Southeast to move polling sites for the upcoming Nov. 1 election.

In a statement released on Saturday following a meeting convened to discuss the requests from local boards to move polling sites due to security problems, the YSK said the majority of members voted against moving polling sites to other areas.

Commenting on the decision by the YSK, Erdoğan said in a press statement at the airport before leaving for France on Sunday that the board was wrong and claimed the polling sites should be decided by the district and provincial election boards. Claiming a friend had told Erdoğan his wife could not vote in the June 7 election and that someone at the polling site had voted in her place, Erdoğan said, “I hope we will not face the same problems [in the Nov. 1 election] that we did on June 7.”

On the other hand, Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu welcomed the decision by the YSK, saying if a polling site in a public building was removed over claims that the state cannot guarantee its security, then this would mean that some parts of the country have no government or state presence. “Such a decision [to move polling sites] would be desperate,” Kılıçdaroğlu said at his party's election rally in Antalya.

“The government has to provide security; after all, it is the government's duty [to provide security]. If a government cannot ensure security in a certain area then it is debatable whether it is the government or not,” Kılıçdaroğlu said. He also claimed the AK Party's aim was not “to ensure the rule of law” but instead “how can I get more votes, how can I prevent voters from going to polling sites?”

The attempts to relocate ballot boxes have been decried by opposition parties, who accuse the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) of attempting to push the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) below the 10 percent election threshold in the Nov. 1 snap election. The HDP led the polls during the June 7 parliamentary election in all the districts where there have been requests to transfer polling stations.

As many as 400,000 voters in many villages and neighborhoods in provinces such as Batman, Bitlis, Diyarbakır, Mardin, Muş, Şırnak and Tunceli would have been forced to cast their votes in another location if the YSK had approved the requests made by local election boards.

The issue of relocating ballot boxes has caused a rift within the AK Party as well. Deputy Chairman Mehmet Ali Şahin, a former justice minister, argued last week the YSK did not have the legal authority to move polling stations, while others, including acting Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, have claimed otherwise.